- DEATH AND DISAPPEARANCE-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials plan to hold the first meeting of a task force established to address the deaths and disappearances of Native Americans in the state.Lynn Trujillo, the state's Indian Affairs cabinet secretary, is convening the task force's meeting Friday as its designated chair.A bill signed by the governor this year calls for the committee to determine the scope of the issue in New Mexico.They also are expected to identify factors that might be hindering law enforcement investigations.More than a half-dozen states have established similar committees.The New Mexico task force has until November 2020 to report findings.The group is expected to discuss strategy for the next year at the meeting Friday afternoon.
- ELECTION 2020-FAMILY FIGHT
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The daughter of Democratic New Mexico Senate president pro tem is running for a state Senate seat as a Republican, and her mom isn't supporting her.The Santa Fe New Mexican reports former state racing commissioner Susan Vescovo said this week she plans to challenge Democratic state Sen. Liz Stefanics of Cerrillos primarily over abortion rights.Senate President Pro Tem and longtime Democrat Mary Kay Papen says she loves her daughter "dearly" but doesn't support her candidacy.The Alto, New Mexico, Republican, says she believes she will be competitive in heavily Democratic areas such as Santa Fe because Catholics in the county are likely to agree with her anti-abortion views.The district cover parts of Lincoln, Torrance, Valencia, Bernalillo, Santa Fe, and San Miguel counties.
- ELECTION 2019-BALLOT ERROR
TAOS, N.M. (AP) — Election officials are trying to figure out what to do about a ballot mix up that may have spoiled Northern New Mexico College's effort to reopen a campus.The Albuquerque Journal reports a property tax proposal that was supposed to be decided by voters didn't appear on the ballot in two precincts in Taos County as required. It appeared as planned in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties.The proposal for a property tax increase to provide a recurring funding stream of about $2.4 million a year to pay for the operation, maintenance and capital improvements received 62% support in Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties.The Secretary of State's office said that "an administrative error made by a county clerk" led to the problem in Taos County.
- ELECTION TAMPERING CASE
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The wife of Espanola City Councilor Robert Seeds has been found guilty of tampering in the 2016 election in which her husband won a District 4 seat by two votes.A Rio Arriba County jury on Thursday convicted Laura Seeds on five counts of felony voter fraud.She was found guilty of two counts of making false statements relative to the municipal election code, one count of conspiracy to violate the election code and two counts of unlawful possession of another's absentee ballot.Laura Seeds was accused of forging signatures on absentee ballots to get her husband elected.Prosecutors say she is facing more than 7 ½ years in prison at her Dec. 9 sentencing.The Albuquerque Journal reports Laura Seeds wasn't taken into custody after the verdict was read.
- ELECTION 2019-PEOPLE OF COLOR
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — People of color made history across the U.S. by winning mayoral races and school board seats in places where their families were once ignored or prevented from voting.From Arizona to Massachusetts, the gains highlight the ongoing demographic changes in the nation but also the growing political power of black, Latino and Native American voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.Ken Miyagishima, the son an internee at a World War II-era Japanese American internment camp, won is fourth term mayor in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He is now one of the longest-serving Asian Americans as head of a municipality in U.S. history.In Tucson, Arizona, for example, voters elected Regina Romero, the daughter of farmworkers, as the city's first Latina mayor in the city's history.
- FORMER OFFICER-BATTERY PLEA
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A former Albuquerque police officer accused of pushing a handcuffed suspect's head into the wall of a cell has pleaded no contest to a battery charge.John Hill entered the plea Thursday in connection with a Feb. 17 incident involving a man accused of causing a disturbance at a church.The incident prompted a Police Department investigation that led to Hill being fired.The Albuquerque Journal reports that Hill will be placed on unsupervised probation for six months and be eligible to eventually have the conviction dismissed.Hill must also pay $50 in victim restitution and perform 40 hours of community service.
- NEW MEXICO ENERGY FUTURE-THE LATEST
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Legislators are mounting a vigorous defense of their authority to determine financial arrangement to close a major coal-fired power plant in northwestern New Mexico and to guide new energy investments toward cleaner alternatives.Democratic Sen. Joseph Cervantes of Las Cruces on Thursday suggested the Legislature revisit this year's landmark energy law to ensure it takes precedent over decisions by elected utility regulators.Utility regulators at the state's Public Regulation Commission are weighing whether the law trumps the agency's own ongoing evaluation about shutting down the San Juan Generating Station. Advocates for utility customers say utility shareholders should bear more shutdown costs that the Legislature overstepped its constitutional authority.At a legislative hearing, Democratic House speaker Brian Egolf said the Public Regulation Commission has overstepped its authority by not implementing the Energy Transition Act and is delaying financial aid to communities that will be affected by the plant closure.
- ELECTION 2020-SANDERS-IMMIGRATION
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders is calling for decriminalizing illegal border crossings, backing an idea that further exposes the Democratic presidential primary's deep ideological divides.The Vermont senator released an immigration proposal Thursday, writing, "Unauthorized presence in the United States is a civil, not a criminal, offense."Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also has called for repealing the criminal prohibition against crossing the border illegally.South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (BOO'-tuh-juhj) says he'd support making illegal border crossings civil offenses but not in cases in which "fraud is involved." Former Vice President Joe Biden hasn't fully backed decriminalization of illegal border crossings, either.Although there's no consensus, decriminalization could be a tough general election sell for Democrats. Some voters may disagree with President Donald Trump's hard-line policies but worry about being too lenient.